In loss, St. Croix Central girls basketball team shows it can bounce backWhen the St. Croix Central girls were outscored 16-4 in the second half at Mondovi on Thursday, they could have crumbled.
When the St. Croix Central girls were outscored 16-4 in the second half at Mondovi on Thursday, they could have crumbled.
Instead, the Panthers showed how much they have matured since last season. The Panthers fought back and made it a game before losing to the Lady Buffs 41-35.
Mondovi is one of several top teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference that plays with an oppressive defensive style.
“As much as we talked about how hard Mondovi would defend us, we were still a little overwhelmed by their defensive intensity,” said Central coach Luke Fritsche.
The game started out close, but Mondovi began to assert its pressure late in the first quarter. After a quarter Central trailed 7-6. It was in the second quarter that Central couldn’t deal with the pressure, falling behind 23-10 by halftime.
The second quarter swoon caused the Panthers to do some soul searching at halftime.
“We talked about how good teams don’t give in,” Fritsche said.
The Panthers fiercely fought back in the third quarter, outscoring Mondovi 20-10. From that point on, it was a 3-5 point game. Central had several chances to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
“We had three really good looks at open three-pointers to try to tie the game in the last three minutes,” Fritsche said.
The comeback was the result of improved play at both ends of the court. The Panthers took much better care of the ball and they were able to get the ball to Kayla Pabst in the post. Pabst scored seven points, but by getting the ball to her, it forced the Mondovi defense to sag to the middle. That created open looks on the perimeter for the Panther guards.
Pabst and Laura DeSmith led a renewed defensive effort. Pabst was a force in the middle of the Panthers’ zone defense. She finished with 13 rebounds, along with several steals and blocked shots.
DeSmith came up with several steals that led to fastbreak baskets that quickly whittled down Mondovi’s lead. DeSmith led the Panthers with 13 points and three assists in the game.
McKenzy Johnson was able to score nine points, despite intense pressure from Mondovi whenever she touched the ball in the offensive zone.
Fritsche was heartened by the commitment the Panthers showed in the second half of the game.
“They showed signs of maturity. That’s a big thing. Last year they needed to grow up a little bit.”
The next three Panther games will all be played on the road. They travel to Plum City on Friday and they play at Amery next Monday. The third of those games will be played at Prescott on Thursday, Dec. 13.